Samuel Okola | The Voice of Zion August 2022 --
I was born and raised near Lake Victoria. Though my home village is in Siaya County, I am now living in Nairobi, Rarieda sub-county. I work as Kenya’s full-time pastor. I have a family of four children: Laurine is 14 years, Esther is 11 years old, Kaleb is 9 and Julia is 5.
I have been a speaker since 2013. Before I became a full-time minister, I worked as a welder in a steel pipe manufacturing plant. Because I was employed there on contract basis, I was able to preach the gospel on weekends, traveling to places near Nairobi and sometimes visiting Siaya. As areas of mission work were growing, I was requested by believers in Kenya to become a full-time speaker. So I have been a full-time speaker since January 2020.
My duties are to preach the gospel to all parts of the country, linking believers in Kenya with MW3. I also make sure that all Kenyan believers can receive and access sermons, both the WhatsApp sermons and the sermons delivered personally. I try to balance my visits to outlying areas with foreign ministers coming sent by MW3.
Whenever I visit congregations and individuals, I listen to various temporal challenges affecting believers in Kenya and report to the necessary and relevant boards. In this way, we can offer support to those who struggle.
Kenyan believers live in six areas. The regions are Nairobi, Siaya, Kisumu, Migori, Eldoret and Kitale, and Mombasa. Each of these areas includes a number of small congregational groups. Because of the number of congregations and distances between them, we communicate via WhatsApp where I post sermons every week. In addition, we have a page on Facebook, Nairobi Laestadian Lutheran Peace Centre, where we post photos and written sermons every week. All are invited to visit this page.
Services arrangements vary from place to place depending on how congregations schedule them. Some gather every Sunday, some gather on Saturdays, some gather every two weeks to listen to WhatsApp services. My visits follow a timetable allowing for distances and seasonal adjustments. For example, if I visit Mombasa in February, then I reserve March for Migori. I also schedule days to visit Siaya, and since I live in the Nairobi area, I am there for two weeks each month. At the Eldoret National Polytechnic facility we hold seminars. In that area believers also listen to the sermons delivered on WhatsApp.
Kenya is a diverse country with different ethnic groups speaking different languages. The main languages are English and Swahili, English being the international language and Swahili the national language. Both are taught in schools and as the central means of communication for education and government. Most believers speak these two languages, but some in different parts of the country understand their tribal language best. In a few places where believers do not have their own place of worship, they gather in community church buildings, otherwise most of the small congregations gather in homes.
COVID-19 affected human life around the world. This includes Kenyan believers in that we were restricted from gathering. As restrictions loosened, we resumed gathering in homes in small groups. Now we can have services in large groups and soon MW3 will organize mission trips again. Believers are happy because they can again host visiting ministers from Finland, Sweden, USA and Canada.
Believers in Kenya are happy with the spiritual support we get from MW3 when speakers come on mission trips, via sermons on WhatsApp every week and in some cases Bibles have been donated. MW3 supports my visits to the congregations, where I hold sermons and encourage believers to endeavor in faith. When it was time for Summer Services, believers in Kenya sent warm greetings to the organizers and all the believers at summer services in different countries: we wish you spiritual nourishment, warmness in your hearts, peace and love to all. We wish you God’s peace.